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Question and Answer 9

197: On 11/18/97, Matt asked: Hello, I have a question from a friend who has been trying to understand the gospel that I cannot seem to answer. Why would the Lord come again unto the people in the America's after his death, yet not to the people in, say, Africa or Australia?

In the book of Third Nephi, an account is given of the visitation of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ to the Nephites. An understanding of two doctrines will help to answer your friend's question. First, the Doctrine and Covenants states:

"There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated--And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." (D&C 130:20-1)

The Savior appeared to the Nephites because they obeyed the law upon which such blessings were predicated. The Doctrine and Covenants also states:

"Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;" (D&C 93:1)

The group of Nephites to whom the Savior appeared were a righteous people who deserved such a choice and marvelous blessing.

It should be noted that it is quite possible that the Lord did in fact appear to people in Africa, Australia, and other places as well. Just because we presently have no specific record of these visitations does not mean that they did not occur. In discussing various scriptural records, the Book of Mormon states:

"For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.

For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.

And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews." (2 Nephi 29:11-13)

The Jewish records are the books that comprise the Bible. The Nephite record is the Book of Mormon. Where are the records of the other tribes of Israel [as described above]?

Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught:

Moreover, still "other sheep," a third group—neither of Jerusalem nor the Americas—heard Jesus' voice and were visited by Him. (See 3 Nephi 16:1-4; 17:4; 18:27.) Will there be an additional or third group of convincing and witnessing scriptures? Yes! Will the lost Ten Tribes—those of ancient Israel who did not remain with Judah, as well as a portion of Benjamin—bring their own records and scriptures? Yes! And eventually, by three scriptural witnesses, the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth will be finally established. (Plain and Precious Things, p.12)

"In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." (2 Corinthians 13:1)

196: On 11/18/97, Matt asked: And if he created disciples in the America's for the spreading of the word, what would be the purpose, since they all eventually fell away from the church anyway?

First, while God knows the future, he does not predestine [or predetermine] it. Everyone must have an opportunity to accept or reject the gospel for themselves. While only Noah and some of his family boarded the ark, everyone had to be given a chance.

Second, while many people drifted away from the truth, many accepted the gospel and were saved. It was only at the end of their civilization that all the remainder fell away. The Doctrine and Covenants states:

"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!" (D&C 18:15-6)

The Nephite gospel dispensation eventually ended in apostasy, but only after approximately 400 years. What was the worth of all the souls that were saved during this 400 year period? For deeper insight upon this point, I suggest you study the Allegory of Zenos [Book of Mormon, Jacob 5].

Third, there are great lessons to be learned from their experiences. One of the prime reasons that we have the Book of Mormon today is so that we can learn from the mistakes that the Nephites made. There are many parallels between the challenges faced by the Nephites and the ones we face today. If we care careful and attentive students, then we can avoid their fate.

195: On 11/18/97, Matt asked: And weren't the disciples in Jerusalem ordained to disperse the word to ALL people?

Shortly after the death of the original apostles, there was a general apostasy in the early Christian Church. Most members of the Church turned away from the true gospel and persecuted the faithful remainder. The organization ceased to be led by God. (See Why Did the True Church Need to be Restored?)

194: On 11/18/97, Mike & Maria asked: I know that somewhere on in here someone has pictures of the Temples and Arnold Frieberg paintings. I understand it was something to do with someone from Sydney Australia. Apparently, these paintings can be downloaded to use as screensavers, etc. Do you know where I can find this? Help!

Try the Unofficial Australian LDS Page

193: On 11/18/97, Nancy asked: Don't you have anything that can help a primary presidency with sharing times, singing time and primary activities?

Yes, see the Primary Corner.  Also, try Primary Matters, The Primary Page, and Primary Singing Time. You may also wish to subscribe to an email list devoted to primary discussions, like LDS Primary.

192: On 11/13/97, Melissa asked: If God has a body of flesh and bones, is He confined only to that body or is he able to be every where at one time?(Omnipresent)

Since Latter-day Saints believe that God the Father and God the Son are gloriously embodied persons, they do not believe them to be bodily omnipresent. They do affirm, rather, that their power is immanent "in all and through all things" and is the power "by which all things are governed" (D&C 88:6, 7, 13, 40-41). By their knowledge and power, and through the influence of the Holy Ghost, they are omnipresent. (See Omnipotent God; Omnipresence of God; Omniscience of God)

191: On 11/13/97, Chris asked: If Bishops are supposed to be of the line of Aaron, do other callings (such as patriarchs, seventies, apostles, etc.) require a certain lineage?

Since the Restoration of the Gospel, the only other priesthood calling which was correlated with a specific lineage is the now retired office of Patriarch to the Church. However, only men who are of the lineage of Jacob [a.k.a. Israel] may hold the priesthood at all. Those who are not blood descendants are adopted into Jacob's line. In addition, those who shall hereafter rule and reign in eternity as exalted beings will form a patriarchal chain which will begin with Father Adam and spread out until every exalted person is linked in. This chain will be based on family lineage. (See Patriarchal Order of the Priesthood)

(Also see Priesthood Organization home page)

190: On 11/13/97, Keith asked: I am requesting a general summary of the Mormons westward movement in the United States. I have a History Day Project that I need a little information on. I have a hazy idea of general people drifting westward to worship and believe what they really wanted to. I would like a better view of what actually happened and why they moved. If you helped, it would be greatly appreciated. I would be even more thankful if you would give me an idea of where they moved and when they moved.

See Church History c. 1844-1877 and Westward Migration, Planning and Prophecy.

189: On 11/13/97, a visitor asked: Do Mormons believe in just one God? If so, then what about in the book of Mormons it says that if you are a perfect person on earth and never sin, then you qualify for being a god of you own world.

Yes, Latter-day Saints believe in one God, as taught in the Book of Mormon:

"And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen." (2 Nephi 31:21)

The Book of Mormon does not teach "if you are a perfect person on earth and never sin, then you qualify for being a god of you own world." Instead, the Book of Mormon teaches that only Jesus Christ lived a mortal life without sin. Latter-day Saints believe that when we accept the Atonement though our faith and repentance, we can be forgiven of our sins and become clean before God. (See Remission of Sins)

To become better informed about the actual contents of the Book of Mormon, I suggest you read it for yourself. For a free copy, call (U.S.) 1-800-528-2225.

To learn more about the LDS doctrine of deification, see Godhood. (Also see Teachings About the Godhead home page; Are Mormons Polytheists? by Elder Bruce R. McConkie; The Doctrinal Exclusion: Trinity and the Nature of God by Dr. Stephen E. Robinson)

188: On 11/13/97, Natalie asked: I am in love with an LDS man and plan on becoming LDS myself. The members of this man's ward seem to feel that I am not being honest with him with regard to my intention on being baptized in the Mormon faith (I was raised a Presbyterian). After viewing your web site, I am quite confused as to why they would not believe that what I am doing for this man is because I love him and that I am more than willing to become LDS for him. I feel like a total outsider - like I may never become accepted and this hurts me deeply. He tells me that everything will be fine, but I wonder if it will. Am I being paranoid? Will I be accepted? We have both been married before and both of us have children from our previous marriages. I would very much appreciate anything you would have to offer.

Since I am not familiar with the specifics of your situation, I must limit my remarks to some basic generalizations. First, Latter-day Saints are counseled by Church leaders not to marry someone with the expectation that they will eventually join the Church. In most cases, the spouse does not join the Church and friction, frustration and divorce mark a great many of their marriages. This statistical fact may account for the reaction of certain ward members. (See Dating Nonmembers)

Second, someone should request baptism because they have acquired a personal testimony of Jesus Christ and the restored gospel. When people join the Church to please their spouses, they often do not remain faithful and fall away into inactivity. Therefore, certain ward members may be worried about your long-term commitment.

However, it is also possible that you may have misinterpreted the feelings some people or assumed that the feelings of a few represented everyone else. Latter-day Saints are taught not to judge other people. In addition, we are specifically instructed to welcome everyone into the fold. Therefore, I would be surprised if everyone in the ward had hard feelings about your relationship.

As discussed in recent general conferences, social integration into the Church takes effort by both the new convert and the existing membership. I suggest you approach the ward Relief Society President and ask her to help you make friends in the ward. If you do not do so already, start attending the monthly Relief Society homemaking night. Join the ward choir. There are many service opportunities in the Church. As you work with other members to serve those in need, you will be able to get to know them better and form stronger friendships. In summary, as you become involved in various ward activities, the alienation you feel from members [whether real or imagined] will disappear.

187: On 11/10/97, Byron asked: I have been trying to find something concise, yet informative, that discusses specific archaeological evidences that suggest support for the Book of Mormon. I visited the FARMS site, but was unable to find what I was looking for; many of their papers seem a bit too erudite, not readily shared with someone with a simple interest in the topic. I don't need a reaction to criticism. I just need some useful information to share with a friend who is not a member of the Church. Any ideas?

Try some of the links on the bottom of our Response to Criticism home page.

186: On 11/10/97, a visitor asked: could you please tell me if a Mormon is required to surrender two years of his/her life to the church? please give me a little of the structure for such a commitment and what they must do during the two years

Latter-day Saints covenant to live the law of consecration. This law is that we consecrate our time, talents, strength, property, and money for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God on this earth and the establishment of Zion. The Book of Mormon states this principle as follows:

"And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light;

Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life--" (Mosiah 18:8-9) (See Baptismal Covenants)

Therefore, we sacrifice more than just two years of our lives. True Christian discipleship requires that we live every moment of our lives for the Lord.

However, you are probably referring to the specific responsibility of young men to serve a full-time two year mission at their own expense. To learn more about missions and missionary life, see our Missionary Work home page.

185: On 11/10/97, Juanita asked: Have you ever heard of a rule of etiquette whereby when the the first person to receive the sacrament on a designated row SHOULD NOT take it first. Rather he/she should ensure that everyone on the row receives the sacrament. Then and only then are they to partake of the sacrament. So the person would receive the sacrament on the tray's return trip to the person passing the sacrament.

In regards to passing the sacrament, the Church does not sponsor the above described rule of etiquette.

184: On 11/10/97, Judy asked: I am doing an on line research of beliefs of various religions for a research paper for my college English class. Any information you can send me concerning the subject matter would truly be appreciated. Here are a few questions I need answered if possible: Does the Mormon religion believe in germline cell therapy? Agricultural application? Is the Mormon religion aware of the International Genome Project?

The Church has no official position on germline cell therapy. Latter-day Saints have always been pioneers in developing techniques to enhance agricultural production (See Agriculture). However, we also "declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan." (See The Family: A Proclamation to the World). Each Church member uses his or her own agency to apply this doctrine in germline cell therapy and other advanced research areas. (Also see Attitudes Toward Health and Medicine home page)

183: On 11/10/97, Chris asked: Are Bishops of wards supposed to be of the lineage of Aaron? My friend thought that this was supposed to be so unless there were no available priesthood members with the lineage of Aaron. Thanks for your time.

President Charles W. Penrose taught:

A Bishop should be a lineal descendant of Aaron, but in the absence of one of that lineage, a High Priest is selected and ordained to that office. With his two counselors, also High Priests, he has charge of an organized ward and sits in judgment upon transgressors and in cases of disputes between members. (What "Mormons" Believe, Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, Vol. 1, p.36)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:

Bishops are the overseers, shepherds, pastors, and judges of their flocks. Their office is one of the ordained offices in the Aaronic Priesthood, Anciently the bishops (judges) were "literal descendants of Aaron." Their office had its beginning with Aaron who was the presiding bishop of the church, Even in our dispensation, "the firstborn among the sons of Aaron" has "a legal right to the bishopric, . . . for the firstborn holds the right of the presidency over this priesthood, and the keys or authority of the same." That is, it is his right to be the Presiding Bishop of the Church, if he is selected and approved by the First Presidency. So far in our day the lineage through which the office of Presiding Bishop will descend "from father to son" has not been revealed. Until then, high priests of the Melchizedek Priesthood are chosen to officiate in this office and also as ward bishops. (D&C 68:16-21.) (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p.352)

182: On 11/09/97, a visitor asked: What proof is there that the Book of Mormon is Authentic?

The Book of Mormon comes with a wonderful promise:

"Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down unto the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.

And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever. (Moroni 10:3-7)

It's really quite simple. If a person will read the Book of Mormon, ponder its teachings, and ask God if the work really comes from him, then he will receive a sure affirmative answer from the Holy Ghost. An answer directly from God himself is the surest knowledge available.

For those who like to depend upon the arm of flesh, our Response to Criticism section links to several sites which collect evidences of various sorts.

(See Teachings About the Holy Ghost home page)

181: On 11/09/97, Marisa asked: Could past Mormon women's views be considered feminist?

The doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints converges in some areas with the ideals of feminism and diverges in others. It insists on the absolute spiritual equality of women and men, proclaiming that "all are alike unto God," both "black and white, bond and free, male and female" (2 Ne. 26:33; Gal. 3:28). LDS doctrine is, however, at odds with several versions of feminism, including those that emphasize female sufficiency apart from men. Because Church doctrine stresses the necessity of overcoming differences and forging a celestial unity between husband and wife in order to achieve exaltation (cf. 1 Cor. 11:11), the radical feminist critique of the family as an institution of repression for women and the call for its replacement find little support among Latter-day Saints. (See Teachings About Motherhood and the Role of Women home page)

180: On 11/09/97, Marisa asked: What is the church's position on the Mother in Heaven?

Latter-day Saints believe that all the people of earth who lived or will live are actual spiritual offspring of God the Eternal Father (Num. 16:22; Heb. 12:9). In this perspective, parenthood requires both father and mother, whether for the creation of spirits in the premortal life or of physical tabernacles on earth. A Heavenly Mother shares parenthood with the Heavenly Father. This concept leads Latter-day Saints to believe that she is like him in glory, perfection, compassion, wisdom, and holiness. (See Mother in Heaven; Teachings About the Godhead home page)

179: On 11/09/97, Carlos asked: I've been reading section 20 in D&C specially the responsibilities of the priesthood and I found a "big" discrepancy in what this section says and what the church actually does. Teachers and Deacons ARE NOT allowed to administer the sacraments, it is only the duty of the Elders and Priests. Why is the church practicing this in APPARENT CONTRADICTION of the scriptures?

If teachers and deacons were administering the sacrament, then your ward or branch would not be in compliance with present Church policy.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 20 states:

"But neither teachers nor deacons have authority to baptize, administer the sacrament, or lay on hands; They are, however, to warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ." (D&C 20:58-9)

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood [Basic Manual for Priesthood holders, Part A] states:

"The honor of administering the sacrament is given mainly to the priests. This ordinance is performed by offering the sacramental prayers. As priests, we should therefore be familiar with the sacramental prayers, dress appropriately, and wash our hands before performing this ordinance. Above all, we should be worthy to perform this sacred ordinance, for we are the Savior's representatives." (p. 50)

However, I suspect that your concern arises from misinterpreting the phrase "administering the sacrament." As stated in the above paragraph, to administer the sacrament is to offer the sacramental prayers. Deacons and teachers do not have the necessary priesthood authority delegated to them to perform this ordinance. However, deacons and teachers often assist the priests by passing the sacrament to members after it has been properly administered by the priests. (See Aaronic Priesthood home page; Priesthood Ordinances home page)

If teachers and deacons are truly offering the sacramental prayers in your ward, then I suggest you discuss your concern with a member of the bishopric, high council, or stake presidency [in that order].

Is is important to recognize that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is guided by the resurrected Savior through living prophets and apostles. From time to time, the Lord decides to change a practice [not belief] of the Church to best meet the needs of his people then living upon the earth. For example, his children were commanded to keep the Law of Moses during Old Testament times, but were relieved of this responsibility after the resurrection of the Lord.

For this reason, it is important to follow the counsel of the living oracles of God. While it is still the practice for only priests to administer the sacrament, it is possible that one day deacons and/or teachers could have this sacred responsibility delegated to them as well. While Church leaders are not infallible, we can always trust that the President of the Church will never lead us astray. (See Following the Prophets home page; Church Leaders home page)

178: On 11/09/97, Robert asked: I have been reading quotes from Mormon leaders that lead me to the conclusion that [Mary was not a Virgin when Jesus was born]. Am I understanding this correctly? The speech in the quotes was not as blunt as my question, so I wasn't quite sure.

Latter-day Saints believe that Mary was a virgin when the Savior was born. (See Was Mary a Virgin?; the Virgin Birth; the Birth of Christ; the Only Begotten Son)

(See Question and Answer 10; Question and Answer home page; Question and Answer 8)

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